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This site is the inspiration of a former reporter/photographer for one of New England's largest daily newspapers and for various magazines. The intent is to direct readers to interesting political articles, and we urge you to visit the source sites. Any comments may be noted on site or directed to KarisChaf at gmail.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How the U.S. put Latin America up for grabs -- Russia, Iran and China are filling the vacuum left by American disengagement -- By Clifford D. May, The Washington Times

Illustration by Linas Garsys/The Washington Times (Illustration by Linas Garsys, The Washington Times)

(text below from within article)

I've met no one here who does not grimace when I ask about Cuba and Venezuela. They understand — as too many in Hollywood, Berkeley and Manhattan do not — that Fidel Castro's revolution entrenched poverty and increased oppression. They are acutely aware of the damage the now-deceased Hugo Chavez did to Venezuela.

For more than two months now, Venezuelans have taken to the streets in protest — with at least 39 people killed so far. The White House has barely reacted. In congressional testimony last week, Ilan Berman, vice president of the American Foreign Policy Council, concluded that the Obama administration "has systematically disengaged from Latin America."

At the same time, three "significant strategic actors" have been advancing in the region. Care to guess who those might be? Russia, Iran and China — that dodgy alliance (axis?) of ambitious, anti-American autocracies.

Russia is planning to open new military bases in Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua, which Mr. Berman sees as part of its drive to expand "its military activities in the Western Hemisphere, to include long-range missions by its combat aircraft." To what end? To defend Russian speakers in Guatemala?

Iran, according to intrepid Argentine state prosecutor Alberto Nisman, maintains a "continentwide network of intelligence bases and logistical support centers spanning no fewer than eight countries." Mr. Nisman is certain that these bases and centers helped facilitate the terrorist bombing of the Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires in 1984 — and that they remain operational today. Hezbollah, Iran's proxy, is entrenched in the so-called "Triple Frontier" where Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay meet.

Mr. Berman says Iran also is working with several Latin American countries to obtain uranium and other "strategic minerals" useful for making nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

As for China, its interests in the region appear to be primarily economic at the moment. Still, China has become a contributor to Argentina's nuclear program.

What's happening here is not just significant, it's historic: As Mr. Berman reminded Congress, in 1823, President James Monroe warned foreign powers against intervention in Latin America, "whose political independence America would henceforth preserve and protect. That statement, which came to be known as the 'Monroe Doctrine,' became a lasting guidepost for U.S. policy toward the Americas."

Lasting, that is, till last fall when Secretary of State John F. Kerry "announced with great fanfare that the 'era of the Monroe Doctrine is over.'"

Did it occur to no one at the State Department that Iran, Russia and China would interpret that not merely as the Obama administration once again apologizing for past U.S. behavior, but also as a bugle blowing U.S. retreat and signaling that Latin America is now up for grabs?

If Mr. Kerry doesn't comprehend the danger that poses, he needs to spend more time south of the border. Even a week on a sun-washed Costa Rican beach can be edifying.

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